Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finger Lakes Fiber Festival

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to attend the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival in Hemlock, NY. It was a spur of the moment trip and I immediately invited Geri, my usual road trip companion, to accompany me.

Our plan was to depart bright and early on the Saturday morning, planning our 4 hour drive so that we would arrive around lunch time. Unfortunately, Murphy's Law swept into action and made itself felt in a big way: my friend couldn't find her passport.

Since June 2009, Canadians have been required to present their passports as identification when crossing into the United States via land or air; no other form of I.D. will do. So, my travel companion began a systematic search of her home and car to no avail. After a 40 minute search, we had to concede victory to Murphy and she reluctantly removed her luggage and knitting from my car. I had to go to the Festival by myself.

Had I not been meeting a fellow Ravelry member, I would have considered staying home. But, I was committed to purchasing a new (to me) Lendrum spinning wheel from someone I was meeting at the Festival.

The drive was uneventful and I successfully met up with the Lendrum's seller and took possession of my new wheel. More on that in another post.

The Finger Lakes Fiber Festival is relatively small in size (anything is, after Rhinebeck!), but has a great variety of vendors spread out over a large venue. My first stop was the fleece sale, which had started at 10am and had mostly sold out by the time I arrived. I spent a good 20 minutes discussing the merits of Romney versus some of the other breeds available, before eventually deciding on a 5.5 pound natural white Romney fleece from Johanneshof Romneys.

Alpacas! (photo courtesy of dearmary)
That mission accomplished, I slowed my pace and began checking out the vendors in the various barns. At BitsyKnits Fiber Arts I picked up some lovely Sharlea merino fibre. Sharlea is actually the trademarked name for the ultra-fine merino wool produced by Saxon Merino sheep, which are housed in "specially constructed sheep care sheds where all aspects of proper sheep husbandry, nutrition and feeding, health, wool growth, quality and cleanliness are exercised between each shearing." This wool is 13.3 microns. That's as soft as qivuit!

Not Sharlea, but still lovely sheepies.
(photo courtesy of dearmary)

At Nistock Farms, I fell in love with a CVM/Rambouillet blend that was extremely soft and lovely to the touch. After much internal debate, I decided to exercise some restraint and only bring home half of the 6 lb fleece, which came from a coated sheep called Gooseberry.

I spent a total of 3 hours wandering the booths, accumulating roving, fleece wash and other trinkets. Then it was time for a cold beverage before getting back into the car and driving to the hotel, just outside of Buffalo.

The 8.5 lbs of raw fleece which I purchased took up most of my car's trunk space. As I looked at it all, I knew that I'd better have a mill process it into roving for me. Processing that much by hand would take forever and produce a dubious quality roving in my inexperienced hands. Fortunately, a friend of mine was going to be traveling to Prince Edward Island and visiting the Belfast Mini Mill, which processes custom orders.

I'm getting the roving from those two Romney and CVM/Rambouillet fleeces back in a few days and I'll share all the details then. But I'll leave you with the tantalizing quote from the Belfast Mini Mill owner that has me itching with anticipation:
"not only was it beautifully clean but the Romney wool is ... amazing …..she loved everything about [my]  fleece."


  1. So sorry I didn't find my passport in time. :-(. Maybe I'll get there another year.

  2. As long as you have it for Rhinebeck! ;)